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Blogging from San Sebastian September 17-25, 2021

Coverage Recap of 61st edition. Photo gallery 2013 Recap of 63rd edition, video I Recap of 64th edition, video I Recap of 65th edition, video / Recap of 66th edition /Recap of 68th edition, video




56th EDITION56th EDITIONDirector Mario Monicelli and Japanese film noir will play the lead in two of the Festival retrospectives.

The work of Italian maestro Mario Monicelli and the specific treatment dedicated to film noir by Japanese cinema throughout its history will play the leading part in this year’s edition of San Sebastian Festival, to take place from 18-27 September.


Comedy was one of the most important genres in the Italian cinema of the 1950s and 60s. Outstanding among the directors dedicated to these movies of comical overtones barely concealing a critical view of society, is Mario Monicelli, author of the most representative works delivered by this popular trend responsible for the success of actors like Vittorio Gassman, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcello Mastroianni, Nino Manfredi or Alberto Sordi.

Born in Rome in 1915, Monicelli continues to shoot, and his latest film to date is Le rose del deserto (The Roses of the Desert, 2006). Monicelli has participated four times in the San Sebastian Festival Official Selection: in 1958, I soliti ignoti nabbed the Silver Shell ex aequo with Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo; in 1965 Casanova 70 garnered the awards for best director and best actor for Marcello Mastroianni; in 1968 La ragazza con la pistola bagged the best actress award for Monica Vitti; and in 1971 Brancaleone alle crociate earned Vittorio Gassman the best actor award.


Japan’s prolific detective and criminal movie production remains largely unknown in the West. Product of an obvious process of importing foreign literary and movie genres, principally American, Japanese film noir could seem like something of an anecdote in the history of Nippon movies. But Japan skilfully endowed its detective stories with a "national touch": the gangster sense of honour, the patient research work carried out by the police, the torment of the outcast criminal or the portrayal of a society badly hit by post-war chaos were all subjects expressing the many concerns and anxieties suffered by Japanese psychology.

The Japan in Black retrospective permits an overview in this parallel history of a Japanese cinema unscreened at Western film festivals and clubs, yet enthusiastically consumed by local audiences. It will include movies about subjects ranging from the itinerant gamblers (batuko) of the silent period to the boom experienced by gangster movies post-WWII, the important contributions made by moviemakers like Akira Kurosawa or Shohei Imamura or the significant incursions of excellent directors from the period of Japanese modernity (Nagisa Oshima, Mashahiro Shinoda, Hiroshi Teshigahara) who used criminal intrigue to make subversive, highly personal films. And we will particularly focus on the moment of splendour enjoyed by yakuza eiga (Japanese gangster movies) in the 60s, with an enormous output of reels about heroic, solitary gangsters; and on the decade of the 70s, when yakuza eiga took on a more realistic aspect.

But Japan in Black will consider other expressions of film noir: criminal melodrama or the adventures of hardboiled detectives in the purest tradition, not forgetting the interesting revival enjoyed by the genre since the 90s thanks to directors like Takeshi Kitano, Takashi Miike, Takashi Ikii or Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

The protagonists of the contemporary retrospective and the contents of the Official, Zabaltegi and Horizontes Latinos sections will be revealed in the coming months.


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Barreda de Biurrun Inés

Blogging from the 69th San Sebastian Film Festival
Reporting by Inés Barreda de Biurrun and Bruno Chatelin.

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